Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’

Governor Quinn Marks Milestone of Major High-Speed Rail Track Work Between Chicago and St. Louis

September 22, 2014

Governor Pat Quinn today marked a significant milestone in the construction of major high-speed rail track work between Chicago and St. Louis. The Governor was joined by Union Pacific Railroad officials as the last segment of track and ties were replaced. Today’s event is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to bring high-quality rail service to all areas of Illinois.

“High-speed rail service will create jobs and open new economic development opportunities across Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “The work done today will help residents get to their destinations quickly and efficiently for years to come. I am proud that our state is leading the way on this transportation trend of the future.”

The Governor and Union Pacific officials watched the Track Renewal Train (TRT) as it concluded major track and tie replacement work that began four years ago. The TRT caravan is the mile-long set of equipment and workers that replaces old rail and wooden ties with new high-speed track and concrete ties.

The Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail project is on schedule to reduce the 5-1/2 hour trip between the two cities by 30 minutes at the end of 2015 and another 30 minutes by the end of 2017. By the end of 2015, more than two-thirds of the corridor will be capable of hosting trains running at 110 mph, compared to just 15 miles today between Dwight and Pontiac.

Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program is contributing nearly $400 million toward the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail project as a match to the $1.3 billion the state has received from the federal government.

In addition to the track and tie work, crews are continuing to improve the nearly 300 grade crossings along the corridor, adding four-quadrant gates at all public and private crossings, and dual gates at farm and pedestrian crossings.

Later this year and in 2015, installation will begin of the positive train control signaling system, the federally-mandated operating system designed to maximize safety along the corridor. Union Pacific is building or extending 13 new sidings that have been designed to provide passing tracks that will permit passenger and freight train traffic to flow smoothly and make the Chicago-St. Louis service more reliable.

“Working together with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration, we have made great strides on this important public – private partnership,” said Donna Kush, Union Pacific vice president – Public Affairs, Northern Region. “Our engineering team has produced some very impressive numbers since this project started in 2010 by installing about 500 miles of rail and nearly 650,000 concrete ties, while spreading more than 1.3 million tons of ballast to help provide a safe and stable roadbed.”

The corridor will receive all new railcars and locomotives over time, beginning with initial deliveries in summer 2016. Railcars are being made by Nippon-Sharyo in Rochelle, which just added another manufacturing shop this summer, and locomotives by Siemens in Sacramento.

To date, the construction project on the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail corridor has upgraded more than 2.6 million linear feet of rail, added more than 1.3 million tons of ballast, replaced 646,000 ties, installed 225 interim crossings and finalized 33 crossings.

The high-speed rail upgrade is part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest construction programs in the nation.

Governor Quinn Invests $102 Million in High-Speed Rail Upgrades on Chicago-St. Louis Line

Funding Will Improve Capacity, Safety on Joliet-Dwight Segment

August 31, 2014

Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $102 million investment from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program to improve system performance and reliability on a key segment of the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed rail line. The investment will allow the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Union Pacific Railroad to move forward with construction of a new bridge over the Kankakee River near Wilmington, as well as other safety and capacity enhancements along the busy corridor between Joliet and Dwight. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and build a 21st century infrastructure that will drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“This investment is going to put people to work and take us one step closer to completing the high-speed rail connection between Chicago and St. Louis,” Governor Quinn said. “None of this work on the Chicago-St. Louis high-speed line would be possible without the outstanding cooperation of the Union-Pacific Railroad. Investing in our Chicago-St.Louis line today will pay dividends to Illinois residents for years to come.”

The $102 million investment will build a second set of tracks between Mazonia and Elwood, including the new Kankakee River bridge to accommodate the increased capacity. The work, which will be performed by the Union Pacific Railroad and overseen by IDOT, will take place in 2016 and 2017. The $102 million investment, part of the $550 million the governor identified in Illinois Jobs Now! to improve passenger rail service across the state, will create or support 918 construction jobs.

Once completed, the improvements will eliminate about five minutes in travel time immediately and put the final upgrades in place between Joliet and Dwight in anticipation of the eventual double-tracking of the remainder of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor. This double-tracking will then allow more daily round-trips at increased 110-mph speeds.

“We value the public-private partnership between IDOT’s Bureau of Railroads, the Federal Railroad Administration and Union Pacific Railroad in making the rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis the premier high-speed passenger corridor in the county,“ Union Pacific Railroad’s Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Wes Lujan said.

Today’s announcement pushes the state’s total commitment to the Chicago-St. Louis route to $358.8 million, with the remainder of the $1.7 billion project federally funded. Trains currently travel at 110 mph between Dwight and Pontiac. By the end of 2015, the trip between Chicago and St. Louis will be reduced to 5 hours from the current 5½ hours. When all of the improvements are finished in 2017, the trip will have been reduced even further to 4½ hours.

For more information on the high-speed rail project, visit

Key Milestone Reached on Chicago-Moline Service

Agreement Leads Way for Passenger Trains on Last Leg from Wyanet to Moline

August 4, 2014

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced today that an agreement has been reached with the Iowa Interstate Railroad to perform design work for a portion of the route for the new passenger rail service between Chicago and Moline. Next month, IDOT is planning to begin making improvements to accommodate service on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway portion of the route.

“This agreement is another significant milestone in re-establishing passenger service between two great Illinois cities,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren. “I would like to thank the Iowa Interstate Railroad, as well as the BNSF, for working with us as the host railroads to deliver a service that will create jobs, spark economic development, provide another travel option and improve the quality of life in so many communities along this line.”

The agreement permits the Iowa Interstate Railroad to begin designing the signal system and plan the execution of the track and tie improvements that will allow passenger trains on the 53 miles between Wyanet and Moline. Once the planning work is done later this year and upon agreement between IDOT and the railroad regarding the scope of the project and the responsibilities for maintenance and operations expenses for the service, IDOT and the railroad will determine a construction timeline and start date for service along the entire route between Chicago and Moline.

Construction is scheduled to begin in September at BNSF’s Eola Yard in Aurora to facilitate additional passenger trains on the 109 miles between Chicago and Wyanet.

The Chicago-Moline service is made possible by $78 million from Governor Pat Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program and $177 million in federal funding. Agreement between IDOT and the railroads will return passenger rail to the Quad Cities for the first time since 1979.  Service will begin with two daily round-trips, with stops in LaGrange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton and Geneseo, which will receive a new $1.7 million station as part of the project.

In addition to these improvements, Illinois Jobs Now! is providing $5 million toward the new multimodal station in downtown Moline, a project that includes a federal contribution of $10 million and a $1.7 million local match.

Also under Governor Quinn, IDOT has led the multistate effort to utilize $47 million in federal funds from the $177 million grant to purchase new Amtrak locomotives and railcars for the Chicago-Moline corridor.

High-speed rail efforts gain momentum across the country

The fields of north-central Illinois may seem like an unlikely backdrop to showcase the future of the nation’s transportation system, but for fans of high-speed rail, they may have done just that.

On Friday, a train on Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis corridor traversed those fields at a speed of 111 mph., 40 percent faster than the line’s normal top speed of 79 mph and faster than any U.S. train outside Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.


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Uniting to back Amtrak service

Leaders from communities served by the Hoosier State passenger rail are coordinating their efforts to build support for the route between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Last month, Amtrak stated the four-day-a-week service would be discontinued Oct. 1, 2013, if the Indiana Department of Transportation did not agree to pick up the cost of the local service, which is less than 750 miles.


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GE Transportation Applauds 110 Mile Per Hour Rail Speeds in Illinois

Lorenzo Simonelli, President and CEO of GE Transportation (NYS: GE) , today applauded the demonstration of 110 mile per hour rail service between Dwight and Pontiac, Illinois, thanks to a stretch of track and rail crossing upgrades, as well as advanced technology designed by GE Transportation.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo, Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper and other elected officials tested out the newly completed track with an inaugural train ride from Joliet to Normal, which is just one segment within the designated Chicago to St. Louis high speed rail corridor. Along this route, speeds are being increased to 110 miles per hour between Dwight and Pontiac.


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Media Coverage of Amtrak Reaching 110 mph Speeds in Illinois,0,1781261.story,0,7424137.story,0,5825111.story?track=rss,0,6577304.story

Governor Quinn, Secretary LaHood and Senator Durbin Preview 110-MPH Rail Service in Illinois

110-mile per hour Rail Demonstration A Milestone For Midwest High-Speed Rail Network, Thousands of Jobs Created from Work

Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider, Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper, and local leaders to celebrate the start of 110-mph rail service in Illinois. Today’s demonstration of 110-mph speeds between Dwight and Pontiac on the critical Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor represents a historic step towards the establishment of a high-speed rail network that will secure Illinois’ position as the Midwest’s transportation hub.

The project – part of a $2 billion federal and state investment in high-speed rail – has created and supported more than 6,000 construction jobs and many more related to production and equipment manufacturing.

The 15-mile demonstration segment showcased major infrastructure improvements, state-of-the-art signaling, and significant technological and safety advancements. Trains will start carrying Amtrak riders at the higher speed between Dwight and Pontiac before Thanksgiving of this year. The 110-mph service is projected to be in place along nearly 75% of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor by 2015, reducing travel time by more than an hour. Today’s demonstration is part of Governor Quinn’s vision to bring high-speed rail to Illinois and modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“A 21st century rail system in Illinois will create jobs and drive economic development throughout the Midwest, while making travel across Illinois faster, safer and more reliable,” Governor Quinn said. “This demonstration of high-speed rail service would not be possible without the unwavering commitment of President Obama, Secretary LaHood, Senator Dick Durbin, and many others. High-speed rail is coming to Illinois and these long-term investments in our transportation system will benefit the citizens of our state for generations to come.”

“Investing in passenger rail means more options for the traveling public, new jobs and expanding economic opportunities for communities all along the Chicago to St. Louis corridor,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “With next generation rail equipment, new track structures, and renovated and new rail stations, passengers will be able to enjoy faster travel times aboard a greater number of trains. Today’s achievement is just one more example of how rail investments are transforming communities across America.”

Illinois has become a national leader in passenger rail expansion. Total ridership on Amtrak’s four Illinois routes has grown nearly 75% over the past six years, rising to more than 2.1 million passengers last year. Ridership on today’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service alone has doubled in that time period, despite relatively slow speeds and aging equipment. When completed, trains traveling from Chicago to St. Louis will reach top speeds matching those of trains now traveling between Chicago and Detroit, the fastest passenger trains in North America outside of the East Coast.

“Amtrak is a lynchpin in Illinois mass transportation and a vital component in the economic development of communities from Chicago to St. Louis, and with ridership up 6 percent this year, its popularity only continues to grow,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. “Recognizing high-speed rail’s outstanding potential to create jobs and drive growth, as well as our state’s leading role in transportation infrastructure, the federal government invested close to $2 billion out of a total $8 billion made available nationwide through the Recovery Act into Illinois projects. High-speed trains will help move residents quickly and comfortably across the state and ensure Illinois remains a top passenger rail provider. Today’s test is a major step toward that goal.”

Today’s demonstration began at the soon-to-be renovated Joliet Union Station and ended at Normal’s brand new multi-modal train station, where transportation officials highlighted the modern upgrades, accommodations and benefits Amtrak travelers will experience first-hand in the near future. Before it was complete, the new Normal station and promise of 110-mph service had attracted more than $200 million in private investments to its downtown area, an example of how rail investment attracts economic growth. Future rail investments along the Chicago to St. Louis corridor will spur economic activity across Illinois in Springfield, Dwight, Pontiac, Lincoln, Carlinville, Alton and Joliet where new or newly-renovated stations are under development or in the planning stages.

“This remarkable 110-mph segment demonstration serves as a testament to exceptional teamwork among all levels of government and the private sector, and exemplifies the dedication to enhancing viable, cost-effective and essential transportation improvements needed to compete effectively in the decades ahead,” Secretary Schneider said. “We are proud to unveil this high-speed rail segment test as a landmark step in rail history and share what travelers may experience in the very near future.”

Today’s high-speed rail demonstration follows the recent announcement of a $352 million multi-state procurement to design, build and deliver 130 bi-level passenger railcars for use in California and the Midwest, including the Chicago to St. Louis corridor. The Notice of Intent to Award identified Rochelle, Illinois-based vendor Nippon-Sharyo/Sumitomo Corporation of America as the expected builder of the railcars, the first of which are slated for delivery in fall 2015.

“We have worked in partnership with the state of Illinois to make 110-mph service a reality and Amtrak is continuing to bring high-speed rail service in an expanded Midwest network,” said Tom Carper, chairman, Amtrak Board of Directors. “When this project is complete, we anticipate the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will be one of the busiest in the country.”

“I want to congratulate Union Pacific’s field engineering team that has produced some very impressive numbers since this project started in 2010,” said Lance Fritz, Union Pacific Railroad’s executive vice president – operations. “The team has laid more than 2.5 million linear feet of rail, spread nearly 1.3 million tons of ballast to help provide a more stable roadbed and installed nearly 620,000 concrete ties. Thank you for a job well done.”

Existing Amtrak Amfleet cars have been refurbished to include new coach and business class seating, new café cars, healthier menu items and Wi-Fi service. Additional upgrades underway on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor route include installation of safer quadrant and pedestrian gates at urban crossings, gates at farm crossings, and new signals and road surfaces at crossings.

To follow progress, updates and completed improvements along the signature Chicago-St. Louis highspeed rail corridor, please

Related Documents

HSR Factsheet (PDF)
Midwest Region Fact Sheet (PDF)

Amtrak train: No better way to connect with U.S. voters

Woooooh… Wooooh. The very sound of the Amtrak train horn is among the most evocative bits of Americana. It conjures up images of giant locomotives, ploughing their way across the country. With romantic names like “The Texas Eagle,” “The Silver Meteor,” “The City of New Orleans,” and my home for the next week, “The California Zephyr.” The train is America.

Because while the horse and covered wagon gave rise to the frontier spirit, it was the country’s railroad that propelled this vast nation into becoming an economic powerhouse. The West may have been won on horseback, but it was the train that carried the swathes of victors to those newly claimed lands. The railroads became the backbone of the country. Transporting labor from one side to the other and the goods they produced to the entire country.


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Group vows continued support of improvements in passenger rail

Area politicians reiterated their support for local commercial and freight rail systems and said they would continue to support the rails with state and federal funds.

“I love to hear that horn in the background,” said Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, who said a few-years-old state capital bill that gave $500 million to rail improvements has helped strengthen one of Western Illinois’ biggest “economic lifelines.”


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